Ron Howard Says Muppets Creator Jim Henson 'Took a Lot of Risks'

Ron Howard praised late Muppets creator Jim Henson for pushing the envelope when it came to creating his famous puppets.

“Jim took a lot of risks financially, took a lot of risks creatively, and he developed very thick skin,” Ron, 70, told People in an interview published on Friday, May 31. “I think I have pretty thick skin, but I don’t know too many people who gambled their time and their resources the way Jim did, and I wanted to reflect that in the film as well.”

Jim’s puppeteering career kicked off in the ‘50s when he began showcasing his colorful creations on WRC-TV. He collaborated with his wife, Jane Henson, to help bring his vibrant ideas to life on the small screen.

Eventually, the Muppets concept was born, providing entertainment for people of all ages with characters like Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and Beaker. Sadly, Jim died in May 1990 at age 53 after contracting a bacterial infection.

“It’s a shame that we lost him when we did because what he’d be doing with tech today would be very exciting, and he probably would’ve pushed that medium along in a way that we would recognize,” Ron remarked.

The Academy Award winner’s new documentary, Jim Henson Idea Man, is currently streaming on Disney+, offering a look back at the lively career of the puppet master. For Ron, showing viewers all sides of Jim in addition to his work was of the utmost importance.

“You could see a kind of aesthetic thread throughout, a wit and satirical undercurrent, and his tremendous imagination,” he told The Washington Post amid the film’s release. “Almost immediately I wanted to channel Jim’s sensibility and aesthetic through the stuff that we would create.”

Jim Henson Muppets
Ian Cook/Getty images

The Andy Griffith Show alum believes that Jim never hid who he was, a creative genius, from the public eye.

“You just could see that there was nothing to hide,” Ron told The Guardian. “He was a really noble guy. He was a really good example of a human being walking the Earth.”

Though Jim and Jane separated in 1986, four years before his death, she was still such an integral part of keeping the Muppets legacy alive.

“I saw tremendous value in the Jim and Jane story, because I had no idea how significant Jane had been in really building the foundation of Muppets Inc. and everything that came from it,” Ron explained.

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